Url Phantomhive

Url Phantomhive

Trying to shed a light on the wonderful maze of books...

Review
3 Stars
The Little Book of Shakespeare
The Little Book of Shakespeare - D.K. Publishing

This little book of Shakespeare plans to discuss all his plays and his sonnets in general over the space of 200 pages. Therefore, of everything there is only a little bit of information. A short synopsis of each play and a very short analysis. Obviously, these aren't very deep.

I feel this book works best for readers who sometimes want to refresh on play or another every now and then.

Review
3.5 Stars
The Fox & The Little Tanuki
The Fox & The Little Tanuki - Mi Tagawa

The Fox and the Little Tanuki was the first volume of a Japanese series featuring a fox-spirit Senzou who is being punished by having to bring up a little Tanuki, and teach him how to serve the gods. Something that is also lacking in Senzou himself. Together they have all kinds of cute little adventures.

The artwork is very cute, I can not describe it in a different way. It was what first drew me to the book. The story is nice too, but maybe a little bit simplistic at times, probably aimed at a young(er) audience. The one thing I didn’t like was the extreme cliffhanger the book ends on. I always hope that volumes are also able to be read individually, which is difficult in this case.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

#StayHome24in48 -> Extended!

Hi everyone,

 

Hope that you are doing well! I'm about to enter the second week of serious social distancing, and suddenly it is rather lonely living alone abroad. I'm just so glad this is the time where we can stay in contact with other people via virtual means, or else I think I would have gone mad at this point (and I went two work for two mornings).

 

I just came across this extra Read-a-thon and while I think there will be more in the coming weeks, it was too good not to join. Although I think I will just keep posting updates after the weekend for the duration of the social distancing (here in Belgium it's currently until April 5th, but they are already saying it will probably be longer).

 

So yes, let's read.

 

What I already finished this weekend: (watch out for the reviews)

 

Ooronoko - Aphra Beth **

 

The Little Book of Shakespeare ***

 

Review
4 Stars
Break Your Glass Slippers
Break Your Glass Slippers  - Amanda Lovelace

I’m not an experienced poetry reader but this year I’m trying to branch out towards other genres, and the theme of Break your glass slippers resonated with me, so I wanted to give it a try. The message of female empowerment is great and it comes across strongly.

I also really liked the aesthetic of the book. Some nice drawings and interesting page settings. The lack of capitals for me took some getting used to. The story of Cinderella is taking as the base of the poems, which had a modern style where everything is discussed directly, which I quite liked.

I guess this was my favorite one:

there is nothing
unfeminist
about the girl
who chooses
the ball gown
& the prince.

there is everything
unfeminist
about those
who try to
shame her for
her choices.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

Review
2 Stars
Why I Am So Clever
Why I Am so Clever - Friedrich Nietzsche

Every week I read one Little Black Classic and this week's is Nietzsche supposedly self-mocking autobiography.

I can be quick. To me, I found it less self-mocking and more like a man who is rather full of himself. Sure, he is exaggerating and it shows, but with this kind of snub undertones that go on to make it painfully clear he actually beliefs he is that clever.

Either that, or I just didn't understand a thing of what he was trying to say. Anyways, not an entertaining read.

~ Little Black Classics #102 ~

Review
3 Stars
Sword Of Destiny
Sword of Destiny - Andrzej Sapkowski

I was expecting much of The Witcher. It's the one series my sister has been telling me for years to read. And with the recent Netflix series (that I still need to watch, possibly during the social distancing of COVID-19), it was finally time to give it a try.

So, Sword of Destiny, like it predecessor The Last Witch are prequel short story collections that tie in some of the questions I'm sure people would have had about the characters in the main series. While I like short stories from time to time, I felt like it was time for me to read a full Witcher book, rather than more short stories.

So, I'm reading the series in chronological order, but haven't decided yet if that is what works best. Either way, while I liked the stories I would have liked to see some more character development. I am still having this sort of strange feeling where I feel like I am reading a book based on a game, rather than the other way around.

Next book is full length, fingers crossed!

Review
4 Stars
Circe
Circe - Madeline Miller

I was recently overcome with a strong urge to read about Greek mythology. I assume it arose since I was reading Through The Looking Glass, which starts the argument that language is dependent on culture with the absence of mentions of color in Greek epic poems like the Odyssey. If colors are mentioned, it is often what we would consider wrong, like violet sheep. (But that is a story for another time).

Either way, I went through my shelves and landed on Circe. And what a great choice it turned out to be, such a shame I didn't read it earlier. As the name suggests, this is the story of Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios. Never one to stand out among the other gods she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she meets multiple important characters from Greek mythology, before Odysseus sets foot on the island and his men are turned to pigs.

It was more of an engaging read than I initially imagined, considering that rather a large part of the story was already familiar to me. Still, Circe was given a very interesting voice and she definitely took the reins of her own story. The descriptions were also particularly livid. I would like to read more by Madeline Miller.

Review
2 Stars
Otaku
Otaku - Chris Kluwe

According to the Cambridge Dictionaire an Otaku is “a young person who is very interested in and knows a lot about computers, computer games, anime (= animated films), etc., but may find it difficult to talk to people in real life”. My kindle dictionaire also mentioned that an Otaku might have problems separating the real from the computer world. In Otaku, the real and the virtual world are heavily intertwined and combined with a standard dystopian setting.

I think that was what disappointed me most in the novel. There are evil corporations and some fractions but other than a bit of info dump right at the beginning, I didn’t learn anything about the different fractions and they all seemed about as bad to me. Because I thought the world was rather bland, even though it was apparently on water and there had been something that was called The Water Wars, I had a hard time connecting to the story or the characters.

There’s a lot of tech-talk and I got lost in it sometimes, making that I couldn’t really get into it or enjoy it. I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t for me, unfortunately.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
3.5 Stars
War And Peas
War and Peas - Jonathan Kunz

Every popular web comic seems to be expanding into publishing collections of their comics. Since I’m more up to date on my reading books than I am reading webcomics, this is a good thing. It also means I have only seen War and Peas passing by on my channels from time to time so most if not all comics are new for me.

The comics follow a pattern of four panes, and usually they are a little morbid. There are certain returning characters like The Grim Reaper, a robot, a witch, a dog and a ghost. Quite some of the comics made me smile.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
3 Stars
The Last Wish
The Last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski

This was my first venture into the world of The Witcher, I haven't even seen the Netflix series yet. I had heard a lot about the games though and I liked beforehand that it was originally Polish, which I hoped would bring some nice refreshing elements to the story.

It felt a little bit weird for me to start with short stories since I still needed to be introduced to all the characters. However, I thought it was relatively easy to follow and I never had the feeling I was utterly lost. The stories were nice, but not much more than that. I thought the writing was a bit awkward at times (almost as if I was reading a transcription of a computer game, which I know was the other way around), which might also be due to the translation.

Either way, I will continue with the next book and give the series a try as well.

Review
2 Stars
Normal People
Normal People - Sally Rooney

Maybe towards 2.5 stars

 

I read this for a book club and it was not something I think I would have picked up otherwise. Sometimes this brings me very nice reading experiences and sometimes, like with Normal People, I find it difficult to decided whether I am glad I read the book. What is Normal, anyway?

Normal People follows the relationship of Marianne and Connell who grew up in the same village in Ireland and who drift in and out of each other's lives a number of times. So far, it seems like any other novel, but what made it more special (it was nominated for a number of prices) is the rather distanced way the story is told.

There are huge gaps in the stories, and it is mainly during these gaps that the interesting parts seem to take place. Rather these are told in hind sight through one or both of the POVs. This way, to me, it felt like I was never really a part of the story, and it took me quite a while to get into it even though it read easily.

Another stylish item that was very obvious was the lack of " " to mark conversation in books. Apparently the author thinks " " are ugly and disrupt the flow of words, so they were completely absent from the novel. This took some getting used to at first, but once I got used to it, it was fine. It gave the feeling like the story was being told to me by someone, with all the 'she said, he said''s.

Marianne and Connell strive the entire book to be a part of the normal people, but the book tries to show that they already are, if something like normal people exist.

Review
4 Stars
The Frogs
Frogs and Other Plays - Aristophanes, David B. Barrett, Shomit Dutta

(Please Note: I've only read The Frogs so far, which was included in the Little Black Classics)

 

All year I've been reading one of the Little Black Classics each week, with different levels of success. Going into The Frogs, I has no idea what to expect.

It turned out to be a play (I like plays), and as such a Greek comedy. I've in school studied some Greek theater, but these were always the famous tragedies. So, I was very glad to see a comedy that also survived the times.

Dionysus is looking for a poet in order to motivate the Athenians but unfortunately al good playwrights have died, so he has to travel to the underworld and fetch one. When he arrives he happens upon both Euripides and Aeschylus who are fighting over who is the better poet. Dionysus will have to make the decision.

The play is silly. But so are all (good) comedies. I have to say I liked reading it a lot. It had a modern feel to it (for as far as possible, because the Chorus remains a strange thing to me), with fourth-wall-breaks and a commentary on plays in general I would almost consider post-modern. What also helped, I'm sure, is that the translation felt modern. (I'm wondering how much of the original the translator sacrificed for readability).

Either way, it was a witty play with a Chorus of Frogs, and I was thinking, if they are putting on this play, I would definitely like to see it.

~Little Black Classics #101~

Review
3 Stars
Dragons Are People, Too
Dragons Are People, Too - Sarah Nicolas


I wanted to read Dragons Are People, Too because of the title. It seemed like such a weird title, I had to find out why it was called that way.

Turns out that dragons are people, too mainly because they are were dragons and spend most of their time in human form working for a specialized government organization fulfilling secret spying missions. Rule number one, never let them see your dragon side. When one of these missions blows up and there is camera footage of an actual drama, all dragons are being contained 'for their and everyone's safety', it is up to 16yo Kitty to prove that dragons are not so bad after all.

It never stops to surprise me why in books all the most serious and most important jobs are constantly given to teenagers. Kitty is this book in no different and has a high ranking position in the secret dragon organization even though she's still at school. As such, most of what happens with respect to the 'case' is highly unlikely and the resolution felt too simple. CINDY was nice though. And I also liked the diversity of the main characters, even though it turned out to be just another of the same kind of love story.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Review
2 Stars
Out Of Darkness
Out of Darkness - Jason D. Morrow

I took Out of Darkness from the dark depths of my rather too-long TBR. It had been there since a time where I devoured (post)apocalyptic stories, although I have to admit that recently I've become a bit weary of them.

Mora has left the relative safety of her colony to try and safe said colony by bargaining a deal with what clearly is an evil entity, exchanging goods for protection. One of the many things however that she has sadly overlooked, is that she is in no position to the bargaining on behalf of her colony. Also, cars run out of fuel, she didn't think of that. Obviously, she never makes it to her meeting, but is rather taken up by another colony. Here she can see what the 'protection' she is looking for, looks like.

I didn't like Mora. It was a miracle to me that she survived long enough to become the main character, because she does one stupid thing after the other. Besides, she has special abilities and the future of the world lies in her hands. There is - once more - two brothers fighting over Mora's favor.

The worst part however, was the lacking world-building. I realize it is difficult enough nowadays to have a slightly original zombie (eh, greyskin) story, but it was lacking here. The big reveal was hardly a reveal at all, and I was left with a lot of questions. But not in a good way.

No more Starborns for me.

Review
1 Stars
Eve Of Darkness
Eve of Darkness - Sylvia Day

Let me explain why I picked up a book I never thought I would like in the first place. Recently, I've been trying to broaden my reading by joining book clubs and reading out of my comfort zone. Tor.com has a monthly book club which I've been following for the last year or so, and for February they came up with Eve of Darkness.

At around 20% I seriously considered giving up on the book. I wanted to give it a fair chance, but every idea I had about the book before the start (it being a book by Sylvia Day/SJ Day - although I never before read one of her books) was confirmed three times over. There had been several (bad) sex scenes - one of which possibly a rape -, the main character slut-shaming herself, and being labeled a sinner for 'having tempted an angel into making her lose her virginity'. What however had been lacking so far, besides taste, was a single thread of a plot.

However, I'm not one for quitting books. I want to see whether there is some redeeming qualities somewhere, even though it would probably be better to quit, because there is so much left in the world to read. Admittedly, the remainder of this book was not as bad as the first 20%, but still it turned into the most generic good vs evil plot with both Cain and Abel (from Bible fame) fighting over Eve (Don't get me started).

Perhaps surprisingly, I don't plan to continue the series.

Review
4 Stars
Nils: The Tree of Life
Nils: The Tree of Life - Jerome Hamon

The cover was what initially pulled me towards Nils: The Tree of Life, because recently I had the feeling I was tiring a bit from the dystopian novels, having previously everything I could get my hands on. Especially within the graphic novels, I’ve often felt disappointed with the execution of the concepts.

I did not need to worry though. First of all, the artwork was splendid and even if there had been no story, I would have liked to look at it. The colors worked really well. I’ve read some reviews stating that the story felt rushed and little detailed but I don’t fully agree with them. Of course, there is a limited amount of information one can get across in the span of a 200 pages graphic novel, but still I got a good grasp (I think) of what was going on. A lot is happening at any time, and I do agree that there has not been a lot of character development, but this didn’t bother me too much.


Would recommend.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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